Theater From the Heart
Laboratory Theater of Florida is the community effort we all need
There is a gem of a theater in Fort Myers—one that is exceptionally ours, because the people who established it are beloved and exemplary members of the community. One of these people is founder and producing artistic director Annette Trossbach, the main character in the story of the Laboratory Theater of Florida. Guided by her visionary dreams and encouraged by the prospects of a longlasting tenure, she pushes on against all odds.
Trossbach is an energetic, enthusiastic and creative soul with a passion for her craft. Her dedication is limitless, especially when it comes to coordinating, producing and showcasing class-act plays and performances. She is a passionate traveler, seeking experiences and inspiration for her work; and she loves cheese, shiraz and autumn. She is also a hands-on type.
“I love the entire process of creating [in the theater]—from production meetings to building, to lighting and sound design. I love the exquisite discoveries actors and directors make in rehearsals, the marketing meetings and all of it,” says the actor, who regularly disregards her administrative duties to go sweep the stage or screw down some walls. “This makes me feel connected to the building as well as the process. It’s a valuable change of perspective from thinking of the mission and philosophy of the theater, which is where all creative decisions spring,” adds Trossbach.
The Laboratory Theater of Florida is housed in a beautifully refurbished building from 1923. Once a church, the historic building, located on the corner of Second Street and Woodford Avenue, is the perfect setting for this type of communityoriented project. Naturally, a building like this needs a lot of maintenance and some TLC. Many eager volunteers assist with the basics, which include building sets, ushering shows, altering costumes, painting, dramaturgy and more. Each year, the theater benefits from almost 20,000 volunteer hours, and Trossbach cannot find enough words to express her gratitude for all that hard work. There is always more work to do, however, especially for two additional buildings on the 1.3acre property. Donations and skilled volunteers are constantly needed for the many demands and chores.
Terry Tincher has been involved with the project since 2016. As the production manager, he has worked tirelessly alongside Trossbach in a series of successful projects, including sold-outs such as Visiting Mr. Green and Hush Up, Sweet Charlotte, among
For those who enjoy live theater, there is nothing more exhilarating than local, unapologetic and daring plays.
many others. “It is a great outlet for both my construction and artistic sides,” says Tincher, whose former entrepreneurships include a building company and various art galleries.
The company has many scheduled productions and even more in the planning stages. In late April 2019, the theater will present a collection of stories, anecdotes, jokes and more, shedding light on the conditions of immigrants’ home countries and what led to the decision of immigrating to the United States. The event, called
The Immigration Project Play, is being developed by a group of playwrights and journalists who have been interviewing both legal and illegal immigrants since this past summer. In addition, there will be yoga, improvisation, interfaith dialog, movement, playwriting, meditation and other courses offered.
Opening November 30 and playing through December is a hilarious three-person comedy called Every Christmas Story
Ever Told (and then some). This is a zany romp through the holiday traditions of major religions and different cultures, told by three actors who play dozens of roles each and switch characters instantly. Also, the company will host screenwriter and playwright Del Shores at Lab Theater on December 2 for two performances of his new show, Six Characters in Search of a Play.
For those who enjoy live theater, there is nothing more exhilarating than local, unapologetic and daring plays. The intimate setting of a community theater establishes a direct link between audience and actors: the stomping sounds from the actors on stage as they move side to side in a dramatic trance; sitting in the audience in anticipation of escaping into the pages of a living story that evolves right in front of the night’s wide-eyed spectators who laugh, cry and clap on impulse— these are reminders of the magic of theater. What I mean is that live theater is pure bliss and we all need to support it.
Laboratory Theater of Florida is housed in a 95-year-old building that was once a church.
As its name suggests, Laborator y Theater does not shy away from controversy in introducing the community to cutting-edge productions.